Film: The Navigators 15 rating Year: 2001
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Country: UK Genre: Drama
Director: Ken Loach
Starring: Joe Duttine, Dean Andrews, Thomas Craig, Steve Huison

Also see our Guide to Ken Loach, or visit our Ken Loach UK or Ken Loach US stores, or see our reviews of other Ken Loach films It's A Free World, Kes, Looks And Smiles, My Name Is Joe, Raining Stones, Riff Raff, Sweet Sixteen and The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

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The Navigators Synopsis - The Navigators is set in South Yorkshire and centres around a group British Rail track maintenance workers. The looming threat of privatisation throws the colleagues into uncertainty. For some it means redundancy for others loss of former employment rights, and in any case the group will be split up to do the same work separately. When the private company takes over and the dust starts to settle, the new way of working is budgets are king and safety is no longer paramount. Worse still, the handover from British Rail to its new company has not run smoothly and the everything seems in disarray, but under the new company there is no one who wants to hear its employees concerns, let alone to correct the deficiencies.

Review of The Navigators - The Navigators , superbly written by ex-railways employee Rob Dawber, was a very timely piece of writing indeed. Not long after this film, a series of fatal incidents on the railways showed up many deficiencies in the management of railway maintenance procedures. This film amply exposes the problems of putting profits before not only safety, but before everything, and the people who end up paying the price. This is yet another Loach film which looks more like a fly on the wall documentary and given its subject matter this works especially well in this context. As a piece of cinema its obviously not some escapist fantasy that large parts of the movie going audience crave, but as a a fictionalised account of what was going on at the time (which we still continue to feel the reverberations of). It is a tremendously well made and brave piece of authentic story telling.
The reasons I recommend The Navigators are: 1. An excellent script telling a very important story. 2. Superbly shot and acted in sympathy with the directors "fly on the wall" approach.